29 January 2013

Zambia/Burkina Faso: Zambia Treading a Slippery Ground

Champions Zambia know what they need to do when they face Burkina Faso in the last and decisive Group C match to avoid the embarrassment of early elimination.

However, the problem is, knowing what to do is one simple thing but achieving it is totally a different issue. The Chipolopolo face a real danger to become the first defending champions since Algeria in 1992, to exit the tournament before the quarterfinals.

Burkina Faso beat hapless Ethiopia 4-0 in their last outing and will come into today's game with confidence, especially knowing that only a draw will see them through to the next stage.

But nothing close to such comfort can be said of the defending champions, who were lucky to get a draw against Nigeria. Herve Renard's team needed a controversial late penalty scored by goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene to register their second point in two games.

The Nigeria Football Federation subsequently wrote a protest letter to the Confederation of African Football complaining about that penalty decision, which goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama described as "one of the worst decisions in the history of football."

"It was the worst call I have seen live. It does not belong in football in my opinion. There is no place for a call like that in a match of this magnitude between the champions and Nigeria.

"What is happening to officiating in Africa if we have calls like that?" Enyeama told reporters. CAF ruled in favour of the NFF and as a result, the Egyptian referee, who handled that game last Friday, Gehad Grisha has been sent home. Against group leaders Burkina Faso, Zambia won't get as lucky as they did against the Super Eagles, who also need a must win in their decisive game with bottom side Ethiopia, who looked more organised in their last game.

From what we've seen in their last two games, Burkina Faso are looking every bit of a team on a mission just like Cape Verde were against Angola on Sunday in Group A.

And with top spot not yet guaranteed, Zambia should expect no favours or more lucky breaks if they're to avoid going in the Afcon history books albeit with an unenviable record.

Copyright © 2013 The New Times. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.

AllAfrica publishes around 2,000 reports a day from more than 130 news organizations and over 200 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.